Labor Relations

Negotiations Recap for February 23, 2015

This recap details the third bargaining session between the UW and the UWHA to form the first union contract for UW medical and dental residents and fellows (collectively referred to below as “trainees”).

UW Proposals

Housestaff Advisory Committee – UW proposed a committee for the parties to discuss matters of general concern, to be composed of three UWHA representatives and three from the UW/GME. The committee would function in an advisory capacity, without decision-making or collective bargaining authority, and would typically be convened on a quarterly basis. The UWHA committed to review the proposal and respond at a future meeting.

Grievance Process – UW’s proposed language included a grievance process comprised of four steps:

    1. Step One: UWHA could file a written grievance to the Program Director and the Labor Relations Office within 30 calendar days of the incident in question (or knowledge thereof). The Program Director or designee would meet with the union and the grievant, and subsequently provide a written response.
    2. Step Two: Grievances unresolved at Step One may be appealed by the UWHA to the GME and Labor Relations offices, which would also initiate a meeting and written response. UWHA could bypass Step One for grievances on policy matters.
    3. Mediation: The union could request mediation for grievances not resolved at Step Two, whereby a third-party mediator helps to facilitate understanding and agreement between the parties. Mediation is a voluntary step that is non-binding.
    4. Arbitration: A grievance not resolved at the preceding step could advance to arbitration, whereby an independent adjudicator hears the case and renders a binding decision. UW and UWHA would split the cost of the arbitration, and each party would bear its own expenses in presenting its case.

UW’s language also clarified that matters involving academic or clinical evaluation, professional behavior, non-reappointment, and generally most other academic matters would not be subject to the grievance procedure.

Grievance Process Discussion

Arbitration Expenses – UWHA expressed concern over UW’s proposal for each party to bear its own arbitration expenses, proposing instead that UW pay for UWHA’s legal fees and any other costs incurred by the union in presenting its case in the event that the grievance is upheld. UWHA suggested that UW is better-resourced, and that UW’s failure to pay the union’s expenses could drive UWHA to associate with a larger national union.

UW expressed concern with this proposal. UW explained that such a provision would be inconsistent with the University’s practice with other unions, and added that arbitration does not always require an attorney.

Grievance Filing Timelines – UWHA reiterated support for its proposal to provide the union with a timeframe of at least 90 days to file a grievance, citing the intensity of trainees’ schedules and associated workload, particularly while on 90-day rotations.

UW noted that a shorter grievance timeline helps support faster resolution, and noted that allowing 90 or more days to pass before filing a grievance makes it difficult for those involved to remember the details of an incident. UW did express willingness to establish a 60-day timeframe, given trainees’ unique schedule constraints.

Next Steps

The next UW-UWHA bargaining session is scheduled for March 9.